Chattanooga Bound

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Helen, and Terry, and Me

The trip to Wildwood, Georgia did not go exactly as planned. I left a bit later than intended and stopped overnight on the south side of Bowling Green, Kentucky. I had planned to boondock in the parking lot of Cabela’s. There was a KOA campground within a mile of the store. I made the decision to hook up the electric and run the A/C at the campground rather than sitting on asphalt in the sweltering heat.

The campground was nice. My shower is still a problem so I used their shower facility. I did not like the cost. Electric, water, and sewer cost $50.00/night. No sewer cost $40.00. I opted to go without sewer and save the money. I didn’t need the RV water or sewer for a brief overnight stay.

The Bowling Green area is on central time. I was up very early per the local time. When I left Cabela’s would not be open for another two hours. I fueled up at the Marathon station for $2.23/ gallon. Up till then the prices were averaging around $2.55/ gallon of diesel. this was a nice surprise. The gas station attendant talked me into a cup of coffee and a bacon egg and cheese breakfast biscuit the she had just made. Both were good.

It was a direct route to the Chattanooga area. From northern Indiana I headed south on I-69 to I-465 south around Indianapolis. I-65 south took me all the way to Nashville, Tennessee where I caught I-24 east within miles of my detination. Google maps routed me around some heavy morning traffic at the I-24 junction. There were a few surprises like when the four lane highway abruptly changed into a two lane state road at a traffic light. It wasn’t too disruptive.

I arrived at my friend Helen’s house around 12:30PM. Helen and her daughter Cathy greeted me. It had been thirty three years since I had last seen them and Kathy wasn’t even a year old then. Helen’s mother-in law, Margarette lives with them too. We spent the first hour sitting on the front porch getting caught up and reminiscing about the past. We walked through the decades as though we had just said goodbye yesterday. We returned to the porch on several occasions over the weekend. It was good to feel the breeze while watching the hummingbirds fight for position around the feeders that hung from the porch roofline. Bluebirds were a common presence on the lawn. I even saw a female feeding a pair of youth.

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Hummingbirds on the Porch

Helens husband Terry had to work late. I had an instant friendship with him when he walked through the door. He is an easy going kind hearted man. They put me up for the weekend. I spent a lot of time just visiting with everyone.

On Sunday Terry made a huge breakfast. there were biscuits and gravy, bacon, and eggs. Everyone enjoyed it. I chipped in my Toasted Maple Nut coffee. We ended up watching some TV before heading out to do some site seeing.

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Chicakmauga Battlefield Visitor Center

We visited the Civil War Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia just south of Chattanooga. Chattanooga had become an important Confederate railroad town during the war. The Union had targeted the city as a means to cripple the Confederate supply lines. Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s troops faced off against the Union Army of the Cumberland under General William Rosecrans. A fierce three day battle ensued along the farmlands of the Chickamauga Creek from September 18-20, 1863. There were many mistakes and miscommunications during the battle. Nearly four thousand men died. The Union lost the battle but retreated into Chattanooga. The Confederates mounted a siege against the Union troops in Chattanooga but in November the battle for the city was won by the Union. The fall of Chattanooga was a pivotal point of the Civil War. The Union used the strategically situated city to supply supply Sherman’s army fort he 1864 Atlanta campaign. The end was near.

 

It was fascinating to walk around the vast grounds of the battlefield. Many stone monuments mark the locations of the diverse companies and regiments that participated in the bloody three day affair. Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois are well represented both in infantry and cavalry. Placards allow the visitor to read the events of the battlefield as they unfolded. There are also locations with QR code links to follow with your smart phone. The battlefield is designated as a National Park. The associated museum is free to visitors. The visitor’s center closes at 5:00PM. The battlefield is open from 6:00AM until dark. We arrived at the museum just in time to hear the announcement that they would be closing in five minutes. Missed by that much. We did walk inside and take a quick look around before a park ranger told us we would have to leave. I will need to return to check it out sometime.

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Wilder Brigade Monument

Terry and I climbed one of the more impressive monuments. The Wilder Brigade Monument resembles a rook tower. It sits on the hill overlooking Glenn Field. A spiral staircase winds around the interior and empties onto a platform rewarding the tourist with a three sixty degree view of the battlefield. It was worth the climb.

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360 View from Wilder Brigade Monument

 

That evening Terry, Hellen and I ate at Cracker Barrel. It turned out it was their anniversary. I felt a little odd to be along for their anniversary day. They seemed undisturbed by my presence and made me welcome.

Late Sunday evening, Helen’s daughter Savanna came over to visit. She is a high energy young lady. We talked past 1:00AM. I felt as though I had always known her. I am glad to have been able to spend the time with everyone. I had a great visit with Catherine, Savanna, Terry, and of course Helen. Margarette was very nice too.

Terry was up early on Monday morning. I woke up briefly but we did not get a chance to say goodbye. Cathy and Margarette were up next. I waited for Helen to get up before leaving. Cathy awoke Helen a little after 10:00AM so we would have a chance to say farewell, until next time.

I fueled up before heading west on the highway. The drive went well until the exchange between I-24 and I-65. There was a backup due to a very bad multi-car accident in the east bound I-24 lanes. I made it past the dense Nashville traffic unscathed but a little white knuckled. I breathed easier once I was north of the city on I-65.

 

Elizabethtown, Almost There

I had made reservations for Crossroads Campgrounds RV park in Elzabethtown, KY. I was making good time when I heard and felt a low frequency vibration as I passed a tanker truck. The sound dampened when I pulled away from the truck but as I passed another truck it got louder. I reduced my speed and headed to the next exit. By then I had a constant rumble. The tires were questionable.

I pulled over to the right and then immediately left into a Shell station. I circled the building and parked off to the side out of the traffic. A quick examination of the tires showed that I had a flat on the rear passenger inside tire. This was the second time I had a blown tire in that particular position. I have AAA RV roadside coverage. I’d rather not have to use it but the circumstances required it, and it was paid for.

I was greeted by a series of menus that led to a person who asked the scripted questions, “Are you in a safe location? What is your name? What is your AAA number? What is your vehicle type? What is the problem? Where are you located?”

The last question should have been the first asked. There was a hesitation after my reply, “I am
at the Shell station at I-65 and Kentucky SR 70, SR 90 at Cave City, Kentucky.”.

“Oh. I will need to transfer you to another call center. We don’t handle that region.”

I only have one phone number to contact AAA. For some reason I had the wrong region. Very puzzling. I got to repeat the whole process. This time it ended with a guarantee that someone would be sent by 4:30PM. The call took about twenty minutes. It was 1:30PM and I was being told I should not have to wait more than three hours at the gas station/ convenience store. Forty miles from Elizabethtown yet hours away.

It was ninety degrees and the humidity was sweat on sweat plus. The convenience store was huge with a Sonic on one end and a Subway Sandwich on the other. In between the two fast food joints the floor space was stocked with foods, drinks, gifts, souvenirs, and auto supplies. Best of all it was air conditioned. I grabbed a snack and a drink, walked outside and then back inside, then outside for awhile and back inside. I let the gas station manager know what I was doing and that I would be there until my tire was fixed. She told me it should be OK since I was parked out of the way.

At 2:30 a flat bed towing vehicle showed up. I expected a tire repair service. He expected to load a Jeep Renegade onto the flatbed to transport it back to a shop for a tire repair. I explained that the twenty five feet long RV was manufactured by Renegade RV. This was the information given to AAA. It had been botched.

The tow truck driver contacted AAA to set them straight. I began the waiting process all over again. After another hour had passed I called and got transferred to the right region then talked with a dispatcher who assured me they were working to get someone who could handle it. When I hung up I was not instilled with confidence. I received a meaningless text update that the call was dispatched and continued my wait.

Eventually I received a call from a repair serviceman. He wanted to know where I was getting my tire from. I had not ordered a tire. I didn’t expect to have to order a tire. I expected the tire to be part of the repair service. The repair shop had been told that I was getting the tire. I relayed the tire size. The repairman had to hunt it down and pick it up. I continued my wait.

Around 6:00PM a man from the repair service showed up with another individual and a three ton jack. The jack was useless. I asked why we could not just drive the vehicle to the shop one mile away. They agreed. AAA had told them it was a front tire. They had come equipped to work on a front tire. It did not make sense. I catalogued it away as another AAA mistake.

The shop was not equipped for tire replacement. It was a towing service. One of the rigs was a massive bright red Kenwood. It was the business owner’s pride and joy. I paid the owner’s wife with a credit card and waited again. The owner, his son, the driver, and I sat around talking while another guy sweated his butt off changing my tire in a roadside repair method.

The shop cat came over looking for attention. He was massive in length and girth. I was told he used to be fatter. It was difficult to imagine him being any larger. Once I started petting the cat he would not let me go until he was satisfied. He walked away, jumped up on the desk and sprawled across it for a nap.

The work was completed by 7:30 PM. I thanked all the guys who had helped me out at the shop and headed north toward the campground six and a half hours behind schedule.

The RV park was nice. The attendant was kind and helpful. I was ready to call it a night. When I plugged in the power cord to the shore plug the faceplate pushed in too. I heard an arc in the box. This was not going to work. I walked back to the camp registration center. The attendant was understanding. She made a note of the defect for repairs and placed me on the end lot, two sites down. I carried my power cable and hose to the new site then moved my RV. I did not have power. There was a large breaker box on the pole next to the site. I found the thirty amp breaker and switched it on. Success.

I was asleep early.

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